15-year Windows user buys a MacBook Air. How can I make the most of it?

Summary:Opinions wanted! I'm a 15-year Windows user who just purchased a MacBook Air and I want YOUR hints, tips, tricks, and advice on how to make the most out of OS X!

MacBook Air

MacBook Air

Without going into a huge history lesson of my involvement with Windows and how the prospect of me purchasing a Mac was a laughable concept up until not that long ago, long story short, I'm a happy Windows user who decided it was time to purchase the latest MacBook Air. And I'm excited as all get-out about it, despite my initial reservation to dole out almost 2-large on it (maxed-out 13" model + taxes).

Now, before I posit my questions, I want to ask that you please try to temper yourselves. I know we have a lot of passionate readers here who have lines drawn in blood when it comes to the OS they prefer, but I'm writing this post with genuine intentions; not to be intentionally provocative. I want to hear some honest feedback from our experienced OS X users without seeing this post fall apart into a standard tizzy of "tee he he, WinBlowz/tee he he, OS suX" comments, you know? Let's keep it constructive and lighthearted, folks!

So, with that said, I will start with how I use Windows. From there, I'll leave it up to you fine readers to give me your best advice, tips, tricks, and whatever else you have to offer (be it from you, links/sites I can reference, etc; however, please spare the book titles, because I don't read manuals if I can get away with it -- let alone ginormous how-to books). Sound good?

Me, the happy Windows user: As noted, I've been using Windows for around 15 years. I'm content with Windows, I know it like I know the back of my hand, and I use it for far more than your average Joe: to record/produce music; to edit photos and create artwork; to play everything from 8-bit game emulators to Crysis 2; to create/edit videos (game-play, guitar lessons, etc.); to do investigative research (which entails a *lot* of viewing file types ranging from documents to compressed files to database files and much more, thus the requirement of programs to view those files); and, of course, I use it for everyday needs, like browsing the Internet, checking email, writing, etc. There is plenty more, but as you can see, I do things that require a powerful system and I'm deeply-rooted in Windows/PC.

Me, the open-minded OS X newbie: As a hobbyist musician and digital artist, I am fully-aware of OS X being the system-of-choice for those who are like-minded: Pro Tools for musicians, Adobe products for graphic designers/artists, and whatever the movie-editing software-of-choice is for hobbyists (iMovie?). But I bought a MacBook Air because I want to learn about OS X in general; not because I want a Crysis 2 powerhouse. Also, I plan to use it as my primary work machine -- that is, for investigative research purposes (which, again, means dealing with multiple file types (some, Microsoft-specific, like .pptx and other Office 2010 formats) that require various applications), writing, and video/photo viewing/editing -- but I'm open-minded and see this as a potential gateway to step into more powerful Apple territory down the road should I enjoy OS X.

And with that brief summary in place, I'd now like to turn it over to you and ask how I can go about making the most of my MacBook Air and OS X. What are the best ways for a Windows power user to jump into OS X and see its true glory? The last time I used a Mac product, the OS felt completely foreign to me when trying to use it for anything other than browsing the Internet, so I'm banking on having to learn quite a lot. Would you recommend me dual-booting Windows? Do you have an application or 20 that you can't live without or think you can recommend to me based on what I wrote above? Would it be worth it for me to purchase the Thunderbolt Display?

Yes, I'll just jump in there and start figuring things out on my own to an extent, and I most certainly could have just "Googled" my heart out to find opinion pieces/comments across the Internet, but I figured this would be a great opportunity to spark some good conversation here and give you OS X users a place to explain to an open-minded Windows user all the things you love about OS X that I just have to check out.

Remember, you don't have to approach this as if you have to make the sale, because I've already made the purchase. It's on the way (I should receive it by Friday) and I'm super-excited for it! Make it even more exciting for me by giving me your best opinions/advice which I can heed come Friday. I look forward to reading what you have to say!

-Stephen Chapman SEO Whistleblower

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Topics: Laptops, Apple, Hardware, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

About

Stephen is a freelance writer and blogger based in Charlotte, NC. His contributions to ZDNet cover topics related to security, gaming, Microsoft, Apple, and other topics of interest with a tech/SMB skew.

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